We arrive! After almost 19 hours in the air, we finally land at the Auckland aiport at 5:15 am on Sunday Sept 6th. We head straight to he apartment/hotel that we have rented for our first two nights, Quest on Nelson St. I would definitely recommend this place – the rooms come complete with a full kitchen, pots and pans and in suite laundry all for relatively cheap. It was great to have some of the comforts of home on the first few days.
We headed out into the city, looking for a coffee shop that would be open at 7 am on a Sunday morning. Esquires coffee has vouchers for free wi-fi which let us send a note home to our family and friends to let them know we had gotten to NZ safely. We walked along Quay st by the water and decided to take the ferry to Waiheke island for the day. I would recommend the Fuller’s Explorer tour – for $48 you get the round trip ferry ticket, a 1.5 hour tour of the island, and an all day bus pass as well.
The tour is a great way to see the island which would be hard to navigate on your own. Views here are spectacular – the island has lots of bays and sandy shoreline. Wine tours are popular here as well. We stopped at Gold Water Estate and sampled a few of their wines – $3 for a tasting of 4 wines.
After we get back to Auckland, we decide to take advantage of our full kitchen and buy some groceries. Shortly after dinner the time change catches up with us – both of us our lights out by 9 pm.
Another must do in Auckland is the Sky Tower. It is the tallest building in the southern hemisphere – even taller than the Eiffel Tower! However, I really think they should judge where the observation deck is – more of a true measurement of the views you get to see. Either way the views are great, you definitely want to do this on a clear sunny day.
Next, we jump on the Link bus to the Auckland Museum, about a 10 minute bus ride out of the downtown and only $5 entry fee. You want to budget at least 3 hours for the museum as there is a lot to see. The first floor is on the Maori/New Zealand culture and history. Floor two is all about volcanoes, Earth, Land and Sea creatures – as well as a few dinosaurs thrown in for good measure! The 3rd floor is a memory to WWI and WWII and the New Zealanders that contributed to those efforts. Definitely eat before you head in as there is no food/drink allowed in the museum – we almost didn’t make it through the 3rd floor we were so hungry!
Next we walked from the Museum to Mount Edan – the highest land point in Auckland, about a 30 minute walk from the Museum. Great views here as well, at no extra charge.
For a few budget conscious tips, New Zealand can be pretty pricey. A good place for a cheap(er) dinner is to hit up one of the food courts in the mall or plan on staying in a place with a kitchen to cook your own meals. Wi-fi is not free everywhere so keep your eyes peeled for places you can get online for free. Public libraries are always a good start and many restaurants offer free wi-fi if you buy something from them as well.